Operation Thai Cave Rescue (2018)


The harrowing story of the schoolboy soccer team who found themselves lost in a remote cave in northern Thailand, and the incredible race against time to rescue them.


In June and July 2018, a junior association football team and their assistant coach were rescued from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand. Twelve members of the team, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old assistant coach entered the cave on 23 June after a football practice session. Shortly thereafter, heavy rainfall partially flooded the cave system, blocking their way out, and trapping them deep within.

Efforts to locate the group were hampered by rising water levels and strong currents; and no contact was made for nearly two weeks. The cave rescue effort expanded into a massive operation amid intense worldwide public interest and involving international rescue teams. On 02 July, after advancing through narrow passages and muddy waters, British divers John Volanthen and Rick Stanton found the group alive on an elevated rock about 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) from the cave mouth. Rescue organisers discussed various options for extracting the group, including whether to teach them basic underwater diving skills to enable their early rescue, to wait until a new entrance to the cave was found or drilled, or to wait for the floodwaters to subside by the end of the monsoon season several months later. After days of pumping water from the cave system and a respite from rain, the rescue teams hastened to get the group out of the cave before the next monsoon rain, which was expected to bring additional downpours and was predicted to start around 11 July.

Between 08 and 10 July, all 12 boys and their coach were rescued from the cave by an international team.

The rescue effort involved more than 10,000 people, including more than 100 divers, scores of rescue workers, representatives from about 100 governmental agencies, 900 police officers, and 2,000 soldiers. Ten police helicopters, seven ambulances, more than 700 diving cylinders, and pumping of more than one billion litres of water from the caves were required.

Saman Kunan, a 37-year-old former Royal Thai Navy SEAL, died of asphyxiation during an attempted rescue on 06 July while returning to a staging base in the cave after delivering diving cylinders to the trapped group. The following year, in December 2019, rescue diver and Thai Navy SEAL Beirut Pakbara died of a blood infection contracted during the operation.

Read more about the rescue operation here (Wikipedia).

Production & Filming Details

  • Narrator(s):
    • Parker Sawyers.
  • Director(s):
    • Ruaridh Arrow.
  • Producer(s):
    • Ruaridh Arrow … Thailand producer.
    • Jon Bardin … executive producer.
    • Lizzie Blenk … edit producer.
    • Fred Fenoulhet … edit producer.
    • Kate Hampson … senior producer.
    • Emma Haw … archive producer.
    • Tristan Martin … assistant producer.
    • Andrew O’Connell … executive producer.
    • Ian Russell … executive producer.
    • Julian Thomas … senior producer.
    • Bettina Vazquez … edit producer.
    • Amy Walker … assistant producer.
    • Michael Welsh … executive producer (as Mike Welsh).
  • Writer(s):
  • Music:
  • Cinematography:
  • Editor(s):
    • Graeme Holmes … co-editor.
    • Ash White … co-editor.
  • Production:
    • ITN Productions.
  • Distributor:
    • Discovery Channel.
  • Release Date: 13 July 2018 (US).
  • Rating: 15.
  • Running Time: 44 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link(s)

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